Radios have always been our source of entertainment and news from long ago. Everyone has a story behind radio nights with friends family or cousins, might be camping or electrical cut out nights, when boredom strikes. And for the older people, they just don't want to let go of the past, human nature. Sometimes we buy a radio to relive those moments or simply because we need one.
Top Rated Portable Radios to Buy in 2017
OUR BUDGET PICK
For compact portable radio experience, Sony SRF-M37W Walkman is the BEST portable radio for the money.
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OUR BEST PICK
Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM Digital Radio is the BEST deal you will get in the market with almost all the features.
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Quick Comparison: Top 6 Best Portable Radios
There is a wide range of FM/AM radios on the market that is why deciding which one to buy is difficult. The more difficult thing is to look for the correct features. Here I will discuss and review few portable radios, and also I will give you a tour of the features which you should look out when buying a portable FM/AM radio.
If you are searching for an affordable, no funky and retro looking FM/AM portable radio then Panasonic RF-2400 is the best deal. If we talk about the performance, then the first thing is the large speakers that gives very well balanced sound. Dial accuracy is decent. Most of the FM stations comes in just fine. Antenna solves the bleeding of stations.
Overall it's a decent old fashioned radio provided with the necessary tools to run it nothing less or more than a radio. To speak about its speciality a saying will go better with this product, "simplicity is the best sophistication".
For me the most special thing about this device is it's simple design and simple using technique. Panasonic has always given importance to user friendliness, this product is also an example of that practice. The Panasonic RF-2400 just comes with the basic features of a radio. Here are those-
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- AC/DC power supply
- Easy to use tuning knob
- Large speaker
- Earphone jack
- Volume button
- Band selector
- Removable power cord
- 4 AAs battery
Portable radios are meant to be compact and this Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM radio is an ultra compact radio which is 8 inches long 4.5 inches tall and 1.4 lbs approximately.
It is surprising that how it pulls in those distant stations. One thing which is important to know that there is a switch in the battery box for rechargeable vs. non-rechargeable.
It can be powered by non-rechargeable batteries as well. There is no handle to carry it but of course, it's portable and small in size, but a handle always makes it easy to carry.
Due to lack of a handle, it might be possible to change the channel by accident touches which could sometimes turn out to be good if the song/the show of the other channel reminds you of any particular day. All in all, this Sangean PR-D7 BK AM/FM Radio is an easy to use radio.
Tuning and operation are simple and FM reception is excellent. The sound quality is rich though the size of the speaker is not arguably large. It makes it one of the best portable radios in the market.
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- LCD Screen
- Fade-free reception (PLL synthesized tuning)
- Sleep timer
- Humane wake system (buzzer alarm)
- Run by Nonrechargeable batteries
- 6 AAs battery
- Smooth tuning
- 10 memory presets
- Great sound
Sangean PR-D18BK is a perfect companion at a picnic, outdoor games or on campings because of its rigid body. It can take on all of those bangs and scrapes from adventures or rough handling.
And the most exciting thing about this usual digital radio that it comes in exciting four different colors. While the color of the product doesn't excite a group of people, majority likes the colorful devices. It does make the radio appealing.
This Sangean PR-D18BK has excellent selectivity and sensitivity and pulls in the distant stations. It has a headphone jack which turns off the external speaker which allows your listening experience to a personal level. But you will agree that radios are more fun when they are on speakers. As I said, earlier this radio could be used as an alarm clock and also has a sleep timer.
It is affordable and has an elegant look. If we come to the sound quality then its worth mentioning that it gives powerful sound for its size, very well balanced tone. Its battery lasts very long, but definitely, it depends on usage.
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- LCD screen
- Sleep timer
- Buzzer clock
- 4 AA's battery
- Attractive Design
- Comes in different colors
Sony Electronics has always been a matter of craze among all of us. Their radios are not any less than a craze. People who are used to with Sony products don't want to use any other brand and the people who don't use Sony soon fall in love with it.
This radio is not an exception. Its inbuilt quality, speaker, station reception is flawless. Though earphone jack is mono, you don't need earphones because the speaker is excellent with clear and loud sound. Since it uses only 2 AA's battery, it is economical. The problem with mono earphone jack can be solved by a stereo to mono adapter plug to convert the earphones to mono.
Thus you can also hear the sound of both the left and right. You have to buy the adapter along with it and you will get the adapter plug in any local radio shack. There is a built in ferrite rod antenna for AM and an external telescoping antenna is for FM use.
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- AM/FM radio fits everywhere
- Great reception
- Telescoping antenna
- Excellent Speaker and Earphone jack(mono)
- Carrying strap for convenience
- Runs on only 2 AA's battery (if tune indicator glows faintly the batteries needs to be changed
- Analog radio
- Indicator for battery change
Name of this product gives away a lot of features about it without reading or writing a single word. It is indeed a super small radio which fits in the palm and comes with earphones. It's also inexpensive because it runs on only single AAA battery.
There is no automatic shut off, so you need to pay attention so that you don't leave it switched on. On and off switch has two positions. It doesn't have a speaker you always need an earphone to hear it.
It has a belt clip, good sound for a small radio and doesn't have an external antenna. If you want a compact small/portable size, and a classic looking pin style AM/FM radio, then Sony SRFS84 will serve you the best. And a better sound experience than just the plain FM sound. It can be switched into stereo with great separation. It becomes static to listen to AM stations, and that's the nature of AM stations. And the mega bass does boost the bass on FM. It is a cheap portable AM/FM radio which serves in every single way to its user.
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- Light weight
- Comes with an earphone
With the Sony SRF-M37W walkman you can workout in the ease with a radio in the pocket which comes with sony's stereo headset (not mono). It is one of the best radios for walking and running. Many portable radios come cheap but what it does is it consumes 2 or 3 batteries per use which ultimately becomes expensive.
But the Sony SRF-M37W Walkman not only comes cheap but also it consumes only 1 AAA battery at one use. Nowadays clock, LCD screen is standard, and this Sony radio is not any exception.
In the box, you will get a black Sony SRF-M37W Walkman with digital tuning, belt clip, headphones and 90 days labor and one-year parts limited time warranty. Builtin DX switch to catch distant and close radio stations. So with Sony srf-M37W walkman, you will have a digital clock, weather band tuning for latest local forecasts. It comes with belt clip and a stereo headset which lets you listen to your stations in private whether it's late at night, in gym, park or office.
It has a battery memory backup so you won't lose your presets and no minutes are lost on the clock. It has all the old fashioned analog signals with a digital display. Setting presets could not be easier in this model. For setting the preset buttons, you just need to go to your desired station and hold the preset button for 2-3 seconds; you will hear a beep and its done. That's why it can be the best portable radio for camping too! There is also a lock button so that the buttons don't get pressed mistakenly. It is the best partner for gym.
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- Direct weather tuning button
- 20 station preset(5 weather bands,10 FM and,5 AM )
- 5 direct key preset feature
- Stereo headphones and belt clip included
- LCD display
- digital display clock
- Only one AAA battery
- Battery life indicator
- Builtin DX switch
- For AM Built-in ferrite bar antenna
What is an AM/FM Radio?
The AM/FM radio programs are transmitted through radio waves which are a type of electromagnetic wave. The waves generate from alternating current. These low-frequency electromagnetic radiations escape the wire and are transmitted to air.
Here comes the function of the transmitter which runs this signals into useful music or noise by modulation. And what differs AM from FM is the level of modulation. AM radio stands for amplitude modulation, and FM radio stands for frequency modulation.
AM is the simplest form of radio broadcast where FM is more complex. The frequency range of AM radio is (520-1710) KHz where FM frequency is (87-108) MHz. While AM radios can transmit a great distance, FM radios cover less than 100miles.AM is for talk radio or voice and FM radio is for music. Because there is more chance of interference in AM radios than in FM radios. So basically a portable radio is a small radio receiver that uses transistor based circuits to transmit radio waves.
Types of Radios
This type of radios date back to the year 1954 to the 1970s. Vintage portable radios cover a vast range of sizes but typically vintage radios are bulky and heavy.
Talking about portable radios and there comes the pocket radio,the ultra compact ones. These devices are typically lightweight and easy to carry.
Walkmans are mostly used when exercising,on gym or doing any type of sports. It allows the user to listen to music or talk radio through headphones and on-the-go.Sometimes there is also arm bands which makes it more easy to carry.
These devices are the modern version of vintage radio being light and attractive. Many of them are wireless. Signal receptions are strong in digital radios.
Boomboxs are transportable stereo systems that have an AM/FM radio panel, CD player or cassette player and sometimes both.
Why buy a Portable Radio when you have Modern devices?
In 21st century why do I need a portable radio? This question can peek through our mind. And if you buy one or get one as a gift what difference will it make against all the advanced devices and stuff?
Well, the answer is no matter how modern device we have they will always have some limitation. For say the battery life of a cell phone against a radio. A cell phone has a very small battery life, but it is made for a different level of use.
On the other hand portable radios are made only for one purpose, and as a result, its battery life lasts longer than cellphones. Also, you can use rechargeable batteries or extra batteries without any worry which is not possible with cell phones or other modern devices.
Since the portable radios are cord free, you can take it with you anywhere. Like cell phones, you might not be able to talk with a radio, but it will provide you with all important news if you are at a distant place where cell phone might not get the signal.
Nowadays radios come with buzzer clock, timer, etc. So you can rely on it when you are traveling. Portable radios are a comfortable partner for athletes or the users who go to the gym or for running. Since no computer memory or minimal circuitry is necessary for radio, the radio weighs less than any mp3 player. Apart from these, a portable radio comes handy in emergency situations. Some radios are made for emergency alerts which have built in preset button for weather channels.
Things to Consider to Find the Best Portable Radio in the Market
All the radios discussed here are portable radios, in different ways of carrying. Few are portable to use in the different places inside the house some are portable for exercise purpose, and some are for traveling, sports and walking.
Like Panasonic and Sangeans are portable for a house, has a handle by which it can be carried easily and also comfortable in camps. For sports and exercising purpose Sonys models are perfect because they are made so compact that it will fit in your pocket. It is actually for personal use only and usually comes with an earphone or headset.
LCD Screen Display
While many of the portable radios have an LCD screen few are full analog without LCD. LCD screens are easy to read and also helpful when it has a backlight. On the aspects of easy read LCD screen Sangean is ahead of others on the market.
Nowadays presets are considered as one of the important features when buying a radio or a portable radio.On the market, you will find radios with no presets as well. While some of the radio has 10-15 presets among them few are fixed for AM stations and few are fixed for FM stations and few for weather channels. Usually in Sangean models presets are present. Many models have external direct preset buttons. Analog radios don't have preset options.
While some radios come with no funky and retro looking, metal color, the old fashioned radio which brings back old memories and takes us to 90's. Then some are more like modern day radios with funky stuff and come in different colors as well. And some comes with a unique looking style without a speaker, built for personal use.
If you want to connect external systems you should look for AUX input option. It lets you connect a speaker or mp3 with it. Sometimes it becomes our deepest desire to listen to a song which suit our mood and because radio stations play random songs, it is good to have an option to connect other MP3 like devices to connect to the radio speakers.
A feature which is highly recommended for camping nights and electrical cut out nights.And also it comes handy at nights. So on the basis of your purpose you should consider this feature.
The dimension and all over the size of the radio is important to consider before buying. If you want a radio for your house, ride, or you want to carry it with you in your pocket or hand by scraping.
Different models come with various size and handling style. So before buying you should look for the dimension of the radio as well as the carrying techniques.
Antennas may not be useful for the users who lives in the town or near the town or radio stations. But for the users who need to travel a long distance and works somewhere or lives somewhere far from the town will require a long telescoping antenna. It helps to catch the far distant channels and also when there is crowd of signals. This is rather an important feature to look for.
Emergency Warning Alert
This is another important feature that you must consider. If there is any possibility of redundancy of any other source of getting news on weather or any emergency case then you should definitely consider this feature. Radios which offer specific alert message encoding allows the user to specify specific areas for emergency warnings. In this way, the user will get notified when there are disaster warnings for those specific areas.
Connecting Station With MP3
The feature that is best of them all is that some portable radios on the market are capable of connecting the mp3 with the radio. As a result, the radios can act as an external speaker so that you can set your headphone or earphone aside for a while. You must look for portable radios with an MP3 docking station or USB port for connecting to digital music players.
We don't listen to the radio on earphones even after having the option. Most of the time it is on speaker, and that is why the quality of the speaker in radio has to be the best feature.
Panasonic has large speaker being a portable radio. Its sound is excellent, and their large speaker is going to be the first impression of everyone when they see it. While Sangean do not have a speaker as large as the Panasonic's but it's powerful as well. Sangean provides powerful sound when it comes to its speaker, and the tone is very well balanced.
Sony and its speakers are not large because it is made to be a compact device, it is for 100% personal use to keep it in the jacket pocket or the shirt pocket for personal entertainment only. Thus the speaker doesn't count as powerful, but the quality is good for personal use.
Obviously, all portable radios are for personal use, but the Panasonic and Sangean also has a large and a moderately large speaker respectively but the two Sony products are compact in size, speakers are small and as a result, its sound is not loud as the Panasonic and Sangean. Sony Walkmans are emergency radio which is for sports fanatics and weather emergencies, and have a good sound quality but with the headset which is given with it. There is no speaker at all.
The battery life very much depends on the usage. But it also depends on the features that a device has.The models which have a large speaker, it consumes more battery. They require 4 AAAs, 6 AAs, and 4 AAs respectively.It is pretty obvious because the models which have both speaker and LCD screen it will need more battery.
Models with ith no LCD screen and a small speaker also with an option of using an earphone requires less battery, and as a result, it becomes budget friendly. With the ones with no speakers, you have to use a headset all the time. Speaker uses more battery than using earphones.
Whatever is the radio price, battery budget and their usage should also be considered before buying a radio or any device which runs on batteries.
Models which requires 4 AAAs batteries ultimately becomes expensive even when the device cost is lower than the others. If the model doesn't have an LCD screen but have a big speaker, it will use a lot of battery, and this is the reason why battery budget is high for some models. The requirement of 4-6 AAAs or AAs is self-explanatory because those models have both speaker and LCD screen.
Thus it requires more battery. With no LCD screen and a small speaker also with an option of using an earphone it requires less battery and budget friendly.
Some models have only earphone option while some have both speaker and earphone options. Usually, the models which have both the features when the headset is plugged the speaker turns off. Some of the models on the market have a mono headphone jack for which you have to buy an external adapter to make it stereo. And there are also many radios which don't have a speaker for which you have to rely on earphones only.
You should give preference to warranty whether you are buying an expensive one or an inexpensive one. Electronic devices often fail with time, and it is normal. That is why its better to look for the models which come with warranty term.
Some Essential Tips
Now you know all the features and flaws. You will now know which one will be good for battery life, which one will be good for sound quality. Which one will lack in sound quality, which one will consume more battery, which one is better for using at home and which one for the gym.
There are so many reasons and purpose to buy a radio. You might be buying a radio for your grandpa who still loves old style, or some would also like modern ones. Gifting it to a friend who loves radios and collects it. Or for yourself to listen to it during gym, while walking at night.
By purpose what I mean is that, you have to choose the correct radio among all. Sometimes you have to consider the budget, and sometimes you just need the best one from the market. While for some presets are important cause they only listen to particular channels and some want the batteries to last long. But how much money you will spend and what features you are going to get from that money is the main concern. That is discussed here briefly.
Why would you buy a radio for almost $50 when you are getting a radio for around $30 with almost all the qualities except the LCD screen? And also why would you buy a radio with a large speaker with more money and which consumes more battery when you need it just for your personal use? So before buying a radio, you should consider your need for the radio before considering the price and other features. As soon as you find your purpose, the features will automatically fit in.
No need to buy a radio which uses more than 4 AAA or AA batteries if you want it for yourself. If you want it for your home, then you will need one with the speaker. And if you live far away from towns or radio stations you have to take one with the antenna to receive the signals clearly.
First of all, you have to determine why do you need the radio. There are many radios in the market. You have checked the best-reviewed radios and choose among those whichever suits your purpose.
Read the features one by one try to understand their terms and what they are trying to say when you are reading bullet point features.You might not be used to with the terms.Understand it then buy it.
Loudness of The Speaker
The loudness of the speaker always matters.If you enjoy listening to the radio with an earphone then definitely the radio with speaker whether large or small is not your deal. Since there are options in the market why would you suffer by buying the wrong one?
Sometimes you buy the radio for emergencies or the times when you can't use any other device. So if you waste your time searching all the channels to reach your desired channel than your purpose is not served. Thus it almost becomes as useless. In this cause, preset option comes handy.
Before buying a product, you should read the comments and reviews. Because that will let you know what kind of potential problems you could face while using it.
Since you are searching for reviews of radios either you need one or you never had one. Either way, you need to choose the best one for yourself. Any one of the products mentioned and reviewed above is unique in their way. Buying any of them will be a success. But you have to choose it wisely depending on what you want from it.
For that, all that is required is to read the features, understand it and have a good look at the reviews. At the end it is you who is buying it, this article is just here for your help. Now you can decide which one is the best portable radio to buy within your budget. Relive the old days and enjoy radios with newer features.